DETROIT, MI (July 31, 2023) — Detroit is known for its automobiles – they're a core part of the Motor City nickname that the city takes pride in. Millions of cars have been assembled under the parentage of Detroit’s “Big Three” manufacturers, and America’s motor vehicle fascination can trace its supply right to the metro Detroit region.
But in today’s Detroit, the automobile takes second fiddle compared to the bicycle. Because with acclaimed greenways and innovative bike share companies, the Motor City is increasingly driven by pedals. Just take a look at Detroit’s premier greenways – the International Riverwalk, Dequindre Cut and Southwest Greenway – all of which are full of bicycles and other pedal-powered vehicles.
“I’ve done it myself, biking up the Riverwalk and taking in the scenery,” Visit Detroit CEO & President Claude Molinari said. “And what we’re hearing from parents, workers, just general bike enthusiasts is that these trails are a lifeline for the interconnectivity of Detroit. Our region is just getting started providing some of the nation’s best bike paths to provide equitable access between our city, our neighborhoods and our economy.”
The International Riverwalk is the nation’s top-ranked riverwalk, tracing the banks of the Detroit River it shares with Canada – including historic Belle Isle, an island park located between the United States and Canada.
The Dequindre Cut is a 2.5-mile path converted from an abandoned railroad line, one of the first greenways opened in Detroit.
Additionally, the Southwest Greenway opened in May 2023 after sponsorship from the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. It connects Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park, a community space set to open in 2024, with Michigan Central Station, newly renovated and home to Ford Motor Company’s electric vehicle (EV) research teams. All of Detroit’s modes of transportation are connected via these greenways, making the transportation arteries increasingly important.
Together, the three established trails provide more than 6.5 miles of bikeable paths that create equitable access to hundreds of shops, offices and restaurants in Detroit. It’s never been easier for Detroiters to trade in their car keys for a bike helmet, not only helping the environment by lowering personal emissions but also saving money in an increasingly difficult economy.
Even the very access to bikes has seen innovation in Detroit, as local rental company MoGo provides a comprehensive bikeshare service similar to Spin scooters. These MoGo bikes allow anyone to rent a bike on-demand, getting Detroiters where they need to be, when they need to be there.
These bike paths are only expanding, as the 27.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway project is rapidly growing thanks to its award-winning Framework Plan. This path will connect and expand Detroit’s existing trails, as well as link them to pathways in nearby Dearborn, Hamtramck and Highland Park. The under-construction Gordie Howe Bridge will also connect to the Joe Louis Greenway in 2025, with bike access linking the United States and Canada at one of the two nations’ busiest intersections.
Detroit’s past might’ve been tied to the gas-powered automobile, but its future is tied to sustainable multimodal transportation. With increasing options for Detroiters to skip the gas station and bike to work, eat or play, the city has never been more interconnected than today. And with so many projects underway, the current state of transportation pales in comparison to the future.